Your Dons Say: Promotion time is running out

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This time, Dons columnist Dominic Damesick reflects on a week of mixed emotions.

From the highest highs to the lowest lows – that is what the last few days as an MK Dons fan have felt like. After thumping Premier League side QPR on their own turf, Dons fell to their first loss of 2013 away at Yeovil, and fell down to 10th in the League 1 table, with promotion really beginning to look like a tall order.

Yes, the side have games in hand, and there is still a long way to go, but that does not change the fact that this squad have not looked like promotion contenders on a consistent enough basis this season, and time will soon start to run out.

Looking up at the scoreboard on Saturday afternoon and seeing it read ‘QPR 0 MK Dons 4’ must rank as one of the highlights of my time as a Dons supporter (a journey that began in 1998). It was almost too good to be believed, and filled me with great pride, as I stood alongside the other 3,000 plus Dons fans that had descended on Loftus Road to roar their team into the fifth round of the FA Cup.

Any worries that the atmosphere would suffer from the presence of ‘day-trippers’ was emphatically dispelled, as both the upper and lower tiers were raucous throughout, and drowned out any whispers the QPR fans mustered (although, in their defence, they had very little to shout about). Well done everyone!

Dons’ FA Cup run this season has been a magnificent story. It began with a 0-0 draw away at tiny Cambridge City in a game that epitomised the true character of the FA Cup, became the stuff of legend when Jon Otsemobor’s heel gained mythical status in the dying embers of the AFC Wimbledon game, and became a real juggernaut as Dons’ dispatched of two opponents from higher leagues.

The next chapter in the saga will be a home tie against Barnsley: a slightly anti-climatic draw perhaps, but one which gives Karl Robinson’s squad a realistic chance of progressing to the quarter finals, while keeping the wildest dreams of every Dons fan alive.

As for Tuesday, the weather was dire, the referee little better. The pitch looked like a farmyard by half-time, and the wind dictated the flow of play as much as skill or technique. I cannot comment on whether Anthony Kay was right to be sent off for violent conduct as, in the words of Arsene Wenger, I did not see what happened. What I do know is that with Kay’s departure, Dons’ hopes of leaving Huish Park with a point were dealt a fatal blow.

The side worked tirelessly, and battled bravely, but with the elements, a persistent Yeovil and a hangover from Saturday all taking their toll, it was only to be a matter of time before the Glovers found a winner.

Referee Mick Russell seemed very sympathetic to Dons’ cause though, having dismissed Kay, and harshly booked two Yeovil players for kicking the ball after being flagged for offside – an offence that must go unpunished a dozen times a game – as well as letting Alan Smith run rampant for 10 minutes without rebuke. So, Dons fans, take comfort in the fact that Russell was not biased: he was just incompetent.

The transfer window is also in its final hours, although for League 1 clubs it is somewhat anti-climatic, as the ‘emergency loan’ window opens again in February. Given that any potential signings for Dons are likely to be loans, the closure of the January transfer window should hardly be the catalyst for the mad scramble for signatures that occurs in the Premier League. So, tomorrow might be a quiet one, and I for one will not be disappointed if it is.